Ronen Chen: Became a fashion designer out of convenience!
While I was browsing the Net the other day, I came across Jewish News Online blog titled “66 reasons to visit Israel“, dated November 4, 2014, and was amazed at the inclusion of Ronen Chen clothing label ‘To buy clothes at Ronen Chen…‘ at number 19 in par with the most historical and Biblical landmarks and tourists spots, even keeping the items ‘To try skiing on Mount Hermon…‘ at number 23 and ‘To see where Elijah hid in a cave, … the holiest Jewish site in Haifa‘ at number 49 on the list!
It was a bit too enticing for me to resist and I swallowed it wholly by going into this Ronen Chen clothing brand. Impressed by what I learned about his simplicity, work ethics, and talent, I thought it wouldn’t be fair on my part to not let my friends know about him.
Ronen Chen was born in Ramat Gan, a city east of Tel Aviv in 1965, and entered the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in 1986 after finishing high school and army service. Though he had wanted to be an architect, he chose Designing for the simple reason that Shenkar College was closer and easier to commute than the College of Architecture. He was in such an hurry in creating and selling designs that he made belts and shoes to boutiques while still in his third year at college. He made designer garments at moderate prices and made money even before leaving college!
Sensible Business Moves:
Ronen Chen founded his namesake fashion brand in 1993 and opened a small store on Sheinkin Street in Tel Aviv where most of the trendy activity took place. Though he had opened three stores in collaboration in London, he shut them down two years later as he realised that his London move was too ambitious a venture for such a start-up like him, and concentrated on improving his brand in his motherland, developing a network of stores in Israel and thus increasing his international sales.
In 2009, after gaining enough knowledge and courage, he opened a stores at Portman Estate, London, and supplied his fashions to the States in cooperation with Nordstorm, the US high-end fashion retailer.
Ronen Chen is best known for his minimalist and sophisticated lines with geometrical patterns and shapes that exhibit his love for architecture. He proudly declares that his first and favorite clients are his two daughters, and, of course, his loving wife who is a TV producer in her own right and has been assisting him in running his brand.
The Ladies’ Tailor:
Ronen does not have any interest in making clothes for men as he feels that there isn’t much to do with men’s clothes except changing a pocket from this side to that side. He likes to clothe women, but not those women who are ‘made to suit the clothes’ by managing to live on raw carrots alone. His idea is to make a woman, mostly a 30+ woman , feel comfortable and woman-like, showing what is to be shown in a woman and what is to be hidden in his clothes they wear.
That’s the reason ladies in Israel, North America, Canada and London, in the UK and other cities in Europe wear Ronen’s dresses when they feel like wearing casual, comfortable, yet stylish clothes. He proudly declares that when ladies wear his clothes, they are getting everything of him — his experience, his imagination and his very soul!
He is known to start his new design using squares of paper, folding them in such a way that they show up the angles which are later transformed into curves in the fabric on the mannequins (Chen’s version of origami, the Japanese art of folding paper into flower, bird, etc., shapes). After choosing the best fabric for each design and stitching it out, Ronen has one of his designing assistants wear the prototype piece for a while just to check on how “comfortable” the wearer feels. That much effort is put behind every design that comes out of Ronen Chen Brand.
The Talk of the World:
Jessica Steinberg in her review for The Times of Israel, December 6, 2012 compared the online shopper on Ronen’s US e-commerce site with a 4-year-old let loose in a candy store as there were the entire 2012 collection, prices ranging from $60 to $300.
Susan Street, the president of VintageJewelrySupplies, on her ‘Fifty, not Frumpy’ blog confessed that when Ronen contacted her to feature one of his items, she found it difficult to choose as all his items are so elegant and timeless.
One of Fodor’s Reviews declared that Ronen Chen’s simple, classic styles in every comfortable fabric, priced for a middle class budget, were his hallmark. Most of his abstract prints in fluid natural fabrics come from Israel, Italy, France, India and Korea.
The famous journalist, Abigail Klein Leichman, in her review for Israel21c far back in November, 2011, remarked that a Ronen Chen dress on a Los Angeles woman might look quite different from another of his own dress on a New Yorker or an Israeli. This was because, she explained, Ronen understood geographic differences in “taste” — people from different regions prefer different fabrics, shapes and colors.
Simplicity of Complexity:
His Summer 2014 collection is said to be soft, comfortable and very feminine. There were several categories: ‘Metropolis’ in clean lines and geometric shapes; ‘Savanna’ in loose and relaxed shapes in light and golden colors in tribal patterns; ‘Ocean Blue’ in several shades of turquoise and ‘Time Out’ in pleasant colors in natural fabrics fit for vacation-wear.
When you think of Ronen Chen, you think of minimalism, universality, timelessness and versatility in use in monochrome and neutral colors, and when you wear Ronen Chen, you feel soft-fitting, comfort and freedom.
Ronen Chen has about 18 own stores in Israel and 2 in London. His items were found at popular retailers in the States, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium, and the online stores serve about 400 destinations world over.
Ronen Chen garments have been worn by Yael Goldman, Israeli actress, TV host and model and Yana Goor, Israeli actress and model. Yael Goldman with Ronen Chen was featured on Fashion TV in 2011–2013.
A Designer and A Gentleman:
I personally vouch for Ronen Chen not only for his tailoring talent but also for his work principles and human values. When most of the world’s fashion designers are using ‘gender-mixing’ lines as the present fashion trends, Ronen refused to “toe the line”, for he believes that we shouldn’t clothe our women in men’s dress, and when Vogue announced its appoint of British designer John Galliano as its December edition’s guest fashion editor, most of the fashion pundits and designers condemned the appointment and labelled John Galliano as a racist for his anti-Semitic comments in 2011.
Ronen was one of very few designers who ‘pardoned’ him, putting the preachings of forgiveness in practice. Dior, where Galliano had been working as an ace designer when he made those racist slurs, dismissed him unceremoniously from his position on racist charges, but Ronen, being a Jew, is believed to have said “…everybody can slip sometimes and Galliano was under the heavy influence of alcohol and drugs, and was a bit over the edge!”